(a) Purpose; award of grants; eligibility; agreements; evaluation; technical assistance (1) The purpose of this part is to create and expand job and career opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the competitive labor market by engaging the talent and leadership of private industry as partners in the rehabilitation process, to identify competitive job and career opportunities and the skills needed to perform such jobs, to create practical job and career readiness and training programs, and to provide job placements and career advancement.
(2) The Commissioner, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor and with designated State units, may award grants to individual employers, community rehabilitation program providers, labor unions, trade associations, Indian tribes, tribal organizations, designated State units, and other entities to establish jointly financed Projects With Industry to create and expand job and career opportunities for individuals with disabilities, which projects shall -
(A) provide for the establishment of business advisory councils, that shall -
(i) be comprised of -
(I) representatives of private industry, business concerns, and organized labor; (II) individuals with disabilities and representatives of individuals with disabilities; and (III) a representative of the appropriate designated State unit; (ii) identify job and career availability within the community, consistent with the current and projected local employment opportunities identified by the local workforce investment board for the community under section 2833(b)(1)(B) of this title; (iii) identify the skills necessary to perform the jobs and careers identified; and (iv) prescribe training programs designed to develop appropriate job and career skills, or job placement programs designed to identify and develop job placement and career advancement opportunities, for individuals with disabilities in fields related to the job and career availability identified under clause (ii); (B) provide job development, job placement, and career advancement services; (C) to the extent appropriate, provide for -
(i) training in realistic work settings in order to prepare individuals with disabilities for employment and career advancement in the competitive market; and (ii) to the extent practicable, the modification of any facilities or equipment of the employer involved that are used primarily by individuals with disabilities, except that a project shall not be required to provide for such modification if the modification is required as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC
12101 et seq.); and (D) provide individuals with disabilities with such support services as may be required in order to maintain the employment and career advancement for which the individuals have received training under this part.
(3)(A) An individual shall be eligible for services described in paragraph (2) if the individual is determined to be an individual described in section 722(a)(1) of this title, and if the determination is made in a manner consistent with section 722(a) of this title.
(B) Such a determination may be made by the recipient of a grant under this part, to the extent the determination is appropriate and available and consistent with the requirements of section 722(a) of this title.
(4) The Commissioner shall enter into an agreement with the grant recipient regarding the establishment of the project. Any agreement shall be jointly developed by the Commissioner, the grant recipient, and, to the extent practicable, the appropriate designated State unit and the individuals with disabilities (or the individuals' representatives) involved. Such agreements shall specify the terms of training and employment under the project, provide for the payment by the Commissioner of part of the costs of the project (in accordance with subsection (c) of this section), and contain the items required under subsection (b) of this section and such other provisions as the parties to the agreement consider to be appropriate.
(5) Any agreement shall include a description of a plan to annually conduct a review and evaluation of the operation of the project in accordance with standards developed by the Commissioner under subsection (d) of this section, and, in conducting the review and evaluation, to collect data and information of the type described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of section 721(a)(10) of this title, as determined to be appropriate by the Commissioner.
(6) The Commissioner may include, as part of agreements with grant recipients, authority for such grant recipients to provide technical assistance to -
(A) assist employers in hiring individuals with disabilities; or (B) improve or develop relationships between -
(i) grant recipients or prospective grant recipients; and (ii) employers or organized labor; or (C) assist employers in understanding and meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC 12101 et seq.) as the Act relates to employment of individuals with disabilities.
(b) Requirements for payment No payment shall be made by the Commissioner under any agreement with a grant recipient entered into under subsection (a) of this section unless such agreement -
(1) provides an assurance that individuals with disabilities placed under such agreement shall receive at least the applicable minimum wage; (2) provides an assurance that any individual with a disability placed under this part shall be afforded terms and benefits of employment equal to terms and benefits that are afforded to the similarly situated nondisabled co-workers of the individual, and that such individuals with disabilities shall not be segregated from their co-workers; and (3) provides an assurance that an annual evaluation report containing information specified under subsection (a)(5) of this section shall be submitted as determined to be appropriate by the Commissioner.
(c) Amount of payments Payments under this section with respect to any project may not exceed 80 per centum of the costs of the project.
(d) Standards for evaluation; recommendations (1) The Commissioner shall develop standards for the evaluation described in subsection (a)(5) of this section and shall review and revise the evaluation standards as necessary, subject to paragraph (2).
(2) In revising the standards for evaluation to be used by the grant recipients, the Commissioner shall obtain and consider recommendations for such standards from State vocational rehabilitation agencies, current and former grant recipients, professional organizations representing business and industry, organizations representing individuals with disabilities, individuals served by grant recipients, organizations representing community rehabilitation program providers, and labor organizations.
(e) Period of grant; renewal; award on competitive basis; equitable distribution (1)(A) A grant may be awarded under this section for a period of up to 5 years and such grant may be renewed.
(B) Grants under this section shall be awarded on a competitive basis. To be eligible to receive such a grant, a prospective grant recipient shall submit an application to the Commissioner at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Commissioner may require.
(2) The Commissioner shall, to the extent practicable, ensure an equitable distribution of payments made under this section among the States. To the extent funds are available, the Commissioner shall award grants under this section to new projects that will serve individuals with disabilities in States, portions of States, Indian tribes, or tribal organizations, that are currently unserved or underserved by projects.
(f) Indicators for compliance with evaluation standards; annual reports; onsite compliance reviews; analysis included in reports to Congress (1) The Commissioner shall, as necessary, develop and publish in the Federal Register, in final form, indicators of what constitutes minimum compliance consistent with the evaluation standards under subsection (d)(1) of this section.
(2) Each grant recipient shall report to the Commissioner at the end of each project year the extent to which the grant recipient is in compliance with the evaluation standards.
(3)(A) The Commissioner shall annually conduct onsite compliance reviews of at least 15 percent of grant recipients. The Commissioner shall select grant recipients for review on a random basis.
(B) The Commissioner shall use the indicators in determining compliance with the evaluation standards.
(C) The Commissioner shall ensure that at least one member of a team conducting such a review shall be an individual who -
(i) is not an employee of the Federal Government; and (ii) has experience or expertise in conducting projects.
(D) The Commissioner shall ensure that -
(i) a representative of the appropriate designated State unit shall participate in the review; and (ii) no person shall participate in the review of a grant recipient if -
(I) the grant recipient provides any direct financial benefit to the reviewer; or (II) participation in the review would give the appearance of a conflict of interest.
(4) In making a determination concerning any subsequent grant under this section, the Commissioner shall consider the past performance of the applicant, if applicable. The Commissioner shall use compliance indicators developed under this subsection that are consistent with program evaluation standards developed under subsection (d) of this section to assess minimum project performance for purposes of making continuation awards in the third, fourth, and fifth years.
(5) Each fiscal year the Commissioner shall include in the annual report to Congress required by section 710 of this title an analysis of the extent to which grant recipients have complied with the evaluation standards. The Commissioner may identify individual grant recipients in the analysis. In addition, the Commissioner shall report the results of onsite compliance reviews, identifying individual grant recipients.
(g) Technical assistance to entities conducting or planning projects The Commissioner may provide, directly or by way of grant, contract, or cooperative agreement, technical assistance to -
(1) entities conducting projects for the purpose of assisting such entities in -
(A) the improvement of or the development of relationships with private industry or labor; or (B) the improvement of relationships with State vocational rehabilitation agencies; and (2) entities planning the development of new projects.
(h) Definitions As used in this section:
(1) The term "agreement" means an agreement described in subsection (a)(4) of this section.
(2) The term "project" means a Project With Industry established under subsection (a)(2) of this section.
(3) The term "grant recipient" means a recipient of a grant under subsection (a)(2) of this section.
(Pub. L. 93-112, title VI, Sec. 611, as added Pub. L. 105-220, title IV, Sec. 409, Aug. 7, 1998, 112 Stat. 1210.)